EM Salute to Black Inventors: Pillars of Industry | Part III

(Last Updated On: May 2, 2016)

The final inventors highlighted in this series are among the top 15 picks of author, Keith C. Holmes, from his book Black Inventors, Crafting Over 200 Years of Success.51LsPuQqNmL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

These inventors represent over four hundred inventions which generated jobs for millions of people and produced income in the billions of dollars in the world economy.

A comprehensive listing of Black inventors is provided in Holmes’ celebrated book which is now available in over 1,500 national, schools, state, university and public libraries, including museums, research centers and  schools as a paperback in over 40 countries.


Dr. Percy Lavon Julian

Dr. Percy Lavon Julian, Americus, Georgia, (over 100 patents), National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee. His pioneering work transformed the soybean from just a feed crop for animals into an agri-crop, from which medicine, paints, lecithin, and fire extinguishing foams were developed. Dr. Julian started his own company, Julian Laboratories, in Mexico City, Mexico. He made sterols and other medication derived from soybeans and the dioscorea barbasco amarillo root. He sought to make medicines inexpensive for those who could not afford them, thereby making them readily available to everyone regardless of socio economic status. Dr. Julian is cited as being one of the greatest chemist/scientists of the top one hundred scientists of all time, patents 1941-1972.

Kofi Afolabi A. Makinwa

Kofi Afolabi A. Makinwa’s (Ghana) pioneering inventions have been used in Personal Data Assistants (PDA’s) and computers. He has over fifty domestic and foreign patents, many of them assigned to U.S. Phillips Corp., New York, patents 1994-2007.

Jan Ernst Matzeliger

Jan Ernst Matzeliger (Suriname, Dutch Guiana), (six patents) Lynn, Massachusetts, National Hall of Fame inductee. Matzeliger pioneered and designed a revolutionary concept that enabled mass production of hundreds of shoes per day by a single shoe maker. Though Matzeliger only received five patents, his inventions have been used to make billions of pairs of shoes and transformed the United States, South America, Europe and the Pacific Rim countries into world leaders in the production of shoes. They also helped to propel the United States to at one time become the leading shoe manufacturer in the world. Shoe manufacture and production is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Matzeliger’s patents have been cited ten times in the United States Patent Office since his death, patents 1883-1891.

Norbert Rillieux

Norbert Rillieux, New Orleans, Louisiana, (three patents), National Inventor Hall of Fame inductee. His inventions, the Evaporating Pan and Multiple Effect Vacuum Pan, revolutionized the sugar industry. Rillieux’s devices are responsible for converting sugar cane, beet, and corn to sugar crystals, as well as making condensed milk, gelatin, paper, glues and countless other products. Rillieux’s work has generated billions of dollars. His pioneering work in the use of steam technology is still used today, and his inventions are cited ninety-eight times in the United States Patent Office, patents 1843-1857.

Tisafaye Shifferaw

Tisafaye Shifferaw, (Ethiopia) invented the “Bowflex™” and “Selectech™” which have generated millions of dollars since their introduction into the world of exercise equipment. Shifferaw has developed a number of other innovative exercise devices, and has started his own company called Dosho which specializes in exercise equipment, patents 1986-2006.

Samuel Ayodele Sangokoya

Samuel Ayodele Sangokoya, (Nigeria), has over fifty patents all of which are in the chemical industry. Many of Sangokoya’s patents are assigned to Albamarle Corporation located in Richmond, Virginia, patents 1992-2001.

Granville T. Woods

Granville T. Woods, Cincinnati, Ohio (fifty patents), National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee. Woods’ work revolutionized electrical railway systems throughout the United States and the world. The ‘third rail’ is one of Woods’ most innovative inventions. Due to his work Woods is often referred to as the “Black Edison”, patents 1884-1907.

About Keith Holmes

Keith C. Holmes has spent more than twenty years researching information on inventions by Black people from over 70 countries. Without innovations, inventions, plans, financial resources, labor saving devices, materials and muscle, no civilization can exist and flourish. Black inventors, from the very beginning of their involvement in the invention and patenting process, have had an important and earth shattering impact on the world. This book highlights the work of early black inventors from almost all fifty states in the United States, including the first Black inventor who obtained a patent in both the Caribbean and the United States. For more information, visit www.globalblackinventor.com.

EM Salute to Black Inventors: Pillars of Industry | Part III